Let’s say you want to go camping but don’t have hours to spare driving to a remote place. Even if you’re an urban dweller, you don’t have to go far to snag a spot in the woods (although you might have trouble with reservations). Here are some of our favorite campgrounds close to urban centers.
Sacramento: Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, about 25 miles northeast of downtown Sacramento, is a summer magnet for locals, and Beals Point Campground in Folsom is the place to set up base camp for family fun. It’s one of two locations on the lake that allow overnight camping, and there’s a big day-use area, too. Leashed dogs are allowed everywhere but the swimming beach. And with 75 miles of shoreline, there are countless other places where four-legged companions can splash and play.
Southeast of town, Rancho Seco Recreational Area is another favorite getaway with a swimming beach, horseshoe pits, dog park, boat rentals and grassy areas for overnight camping. No dogs are allowed at the swimming beach or on hiking trails, but there are plenty of other ways to have fun with your pup.
San Francisco: Just a hop, skip and jump from the city (15 miles west of San Rafael to be exact), Samuel P Taylor State Park is a serene getaway bordering Point Reyes National Seashore. You’ll find dog-friendly picnic areas, campsites tucked into redwoods along Lagunitas Creek, hot showers and a dog-friendly, 5-mile section of the Cross Marin Trail.
Los Angeles: OK, if you can just get off of that LA Freeway, you’ll find many dog-friendly camping opportunities less than two hours away, particularly in the San Bernardino National Forest. Nearby Point Mugu State Park allows leashed dogs in campgrounds, on paved roads and on beaches, while Circle X Ranch in Santa Monica, a former Boy Scout facility, is great for views and hiking trails. Forest service lands and campgrounds have many fewer restrictions. To get a lead on developed family campgrounds that welcome dogs, click here.
San Diego: Campland on the Bay is a private campground that caters mostly to RVers but welcomes tent campers as well. It’s huge and loaded with resort amenities, from a broad beach to a 124-slip marina, swimming pools, game room, bike and watercraft rental, an ice cream parlor, market and kid activities galore. And Campland loves dogs: Its Dogwood Park is great for an off-leash romp, and rules in general are more permissive than at other campgrounds.